Parameter Optimization of a Discrete Scattering Model by Integration of Global Sensitivity Analysis Using SMAP Active and Passive Observations

Xiaojing Bai, Jiangyuan Zeng (Corresponding Author), Kun Shan Chen, Zhen Li, Yijian Zeng, Jun Wen, Xin Wang, Xiaohua Dong, Zhongbo Su

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Active and passive microwave signatures respond differently to the land surface and provide complementary information on the characteristics of the observed scenes. The objective of this paper is to explore the synergy of active radar and passive radiometer observations at the same spatial scale to constrain a discrete radiative transfer model, the Tor Vergata (TVG) model, to gain insights into the microwave scattering and emission mechanisms over grasslands. The TVG model can simultaneously simulate the backscattering coefficient and emissivity with a set of input parameters. To calibrate this model, in situ soil moisture and temperature data collected from the Maqu area in the northeastern region of the Tibetan Plateau, interpolated leaf area index (LAI) data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer LAI eight-day products, and concurrent and coincident Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) radar and radiometer observations are used. Because this model needs numerous input parameters to be driven, the extended Fourier amplitude sensitivity test is first applied to conduct global sensitivity analysis (GSA) to select the sensitive and insensitive parameters. Only the most sensitive parameters are defined as free variables, to separately calibrate the active-only model (TVG-A), the passive-only model (TVG-P), and the active and passive combined model (TVG-AP). The accuracy of the calibrated models is evaluated by comparing the SMAP observations and the model simulations. The results show that TVG-AP can well reproduce the backscattering coefficient and brightness temperature, with correlation coefficients of 0.87, 0.89, 0.78, and 0.43 and root-mean-square errors of 0.49 dB, 0.52 dB, 7.20 K, and 10.47 K for σ HH⁰ , σ VV⁰ , TBH, and TBV, respectively. In contrast, TVG-A and TVG-P can only accurately model the backscattering coefficient and brightness temperature, respectively. Without any modifications of the calibrated parameters, the error metrics computed from the validation data are slightly worse than those of the calibration data. These results demonstrate the feasibility of the synergistic use of SMAP active radar and passive radiometer observations under the unified framework of a physical model. In addition, the results demonstrate the necessity and effectiveness of applying GSA in model optimization. It is expected that these findings can contribute to the development of model-based soil moisture retrieval methods using active and passive microwave remote sensing data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8457483
Pages (from-to)1084-1099
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE transactions on geoscience and remote sensing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Active and passive microwave
  • Backscatter
  • Calibration and validation
  • Global sensitivity analysis (GSA)
  • Microwave radiometry
  • Passive radar
  • Scattering
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)
  • Spaceborne radar
  • Tor Vergata (TVG) model.
  • 22/4 OA procedure


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